“Friends don’t stab you in the chest.” Ever heard that one? Ernest Thompson Seton would certainly agree. Seton founded a group for boys in America called “Woodcraft Indians” and made the mistake of telling a British war hero about it, sharing the details of his organization. General Robert Baden-Powell then started scouting in England — by stealing Seton’s idea, his organizational structure, and plagiarizing the manual. And it gets worse!
Seton had almost as many wounds as Caesar by the time it was all over. David C. Scott and Brendan Murphy detail the action, the drama, and the agony that was the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America in their new book, The Scouting Party, Pioneering and Preservation, Progressivism and Preparedness in the Making of the Boy Scouts of America. Credit William Faulkner with the title?
Not a chapter goes by in The Scouting Party, Pioneering and Preservation, Progressivism and Preparedness in the Making of the Boy Scouts of America that more details and juicy stories don’t turn up of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as the nation's premier organization for boys is born. It was almost as difficult as real childbirth with three sets of DNA. Just who was the father anyway?
Each of the founding fathers gets a biographical chapter: Seton, the outdoorsman British expatriate, the war-hero Baden-Powell, and Daniel C. Beard, founder of the Sons of Daniel Boone and illustrator of Mark Twain’s, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Then it gets complicated.
William Dickson Boyce, a publisher from Chicago makes up a story about an encounter with a Boy Scout in the fog in London who introduces him to the scouting concept. The legend of the “Unknown Scout” inspires Boyce to go to Washington, D.C. and use his influence and contacts there (with the help of a descendant of the storied African missionary-explorer, David Lingstone) to incorporate “The Boy Scouts of America”.